Somalia: displaced and desperate in IDP camps

Somalia is facing a severe humanitarian crisis triggered by multiple natural disasters and long term political instability which are having a crippling effect on the country’s economy. Recovery efforts have not yet provided state building opportunities due to the fragile institutions in place and the rapidly changing natural phenomena that have led to an increase in population vulnerability to hazards. Protracted conflict continues to cause large scale displacements in many parts of South Central Somalia and the security situation has been deteriorating in the Middle and Lower Shabele regions as military confrontation between waring armed groups intensifies.

Between November and December 2017, over 2000 families fled their homes in villages south of the Balcad district (Middle Shabele region) after the Somalian government forces raided areas believed to be hosting armed groups. Clan clashes over territorial control continues to result in forceful displacements of social minority groups in the Marka district (Lower Shabele). Affected families have fled to Mogadishu to join internally displaced communities in makeshift camps. Severe droughts are becoming a seasonal phenomenon, having distressing effects on pastoral and farming communities in Bay, the Lower shabele and Bakool regions. Thousands of families there continue to face increasing food insecurity, and farming activities have been significantly reduced due to the prolong periods of low precipitation. A direct dire result of those droughts has been the drying up of the river Shabele which used to provide a lifeline water source for South Central Somalia. Pastoral communities have lost animals, making life in rural villages unbearable and causing mass relocation of affected populations to Mogadishu to join informal settlements.

IDP settlements in Banadir are overcrowding while services provided by humanitarian actors are overstretched as already limited NGOs facilities continue to receive new families every day. Despite 70% of their population being composed of women and children IDP camps provide limited employment opportunities to them due to their lack of skills as well as social restrictions. Lacking income and needing to support their families, women are faced with the hard options to either remain in the shelters or to move around Mogadishu in search of rarely available income opportunities, often leading them to accept exploitative casual work which pays them less than a dollar a day. Surviving on one meal a day and poor access to food commodities is the cause of high malnutrition cases among infants and pregnant women in camps.

Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) is present in Somalia providing WASH and livelihood support to displaced population in Banadir, priority is given to IDP camps hosting the highest number of drought displaced families. According to OCHA, the Banadir region hosts more than 700,000 internally displaced persons and nearly 270,000 of them are facing acute food insecurity (IPC3 and 4) while the rest are at critical levels of acute malnutrition (16.1 per cent GAM prevalence). Reduced humanitarian funding and an increasing number of crisis affected individuals are limiting the humanitarian actors’ capacity to reach most of these communities in urgent needs of assistance.

In its current programming, PAH focuses on providing families in acute emergency with satisfactory access to food through distribution of unconditional multi-purpose cash transfers. Within the currently ongoing ECHO funded project, 770 most food insecure families living along Afgoye Corridor (Banadir) as well as drought affected families from Middle Shabelle will receive 3 months of unconditional and unrestricted cash transfers. The transfer value is based on the harmonized transfer value recommended by ECHO and DFID (65% of the combined MEB). In PAH areas of operation this is 70 USD per month and each targeted family will receive a maximum accumulative amount of 210 USD for the 3 months. This intervention aims to provide life-saving assistance to crisis affected vulnerable families by enabling them to have access to basic food commodities to avert negative effects of food insecurity especially among women and children. According to targeting criteria and outcomes of PAH monitoring, it is assumed that the majority of families will use the unconditional MPCT on food items.